Is EMI enough? Perceptions from university professors and students

Kathleen Anne Corrales, Lourdes A. Paba Rey, Nazira Santiago Escamilla


Internationalization of higher education aims to develop foreign language and intercultural and international competences (IIC). To achieve this, universities worldwide have implemented strategies such as teaching content subjects in English, also known as English mediated instruction (EMI). However, there is scant research on the positive and negative aspects related to EMI implementation in Latin America. For this reason, this case study explores the perceptions of a group of computer science professors, students, and the program administrator in a Colombian university about the use of this approach in learning content and language and the development of IICs. Results revealed that implementing this initiative has benefits but also poses some challenges. Therefore, we offer recommendations related to the institution as a whole, the professors, and the students and suggest including some elements of the CLIL approach to support learning. It is hoped that these findings will contribute to the worldwide EMI/CLIL discussion, especially in Latin American where this practice is relatively new.


doi: 10.5294/laclil.2016.9.2.4


English medium instruction; intercultural education; international education; higher education


Aguilar, M. (2015). Engineering lecturers’ vie won CLIL and EMI. International Journal of Education and Bilingualism, 1-14.

Aguilar, M., & Rodríguez, R. (2012). Implementing CLIL at a Spanish university. Lecturer and student perceptions. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15, 183-197.

Airey, J. (2011). Talking about teaching in English: Swedish university lecturers’ experiences of changing teaching language. Ibérica, 22, 35-54.

Airey, J., & Linder, C. (2006). Language and the experience of learning university physics in Sweden. Institute of Physics Publishing, 27, 553-560.

Ali, N. L. (2013). A changing paradigm in language planning: English-medium instruction policy at the tertiary level in Malaysia. Language Awareness, 14(1), 73-92.

Altbach, P. G. (2004). Globalisation and the university: Myths and realities in an unequal world. Tertiary Education and Management, 10(1), 3-25.

Ball, P., & Lindsay, D. (2013). Language demands and support for English-medium instruction in tertiary education. Learning from a specific context. In A. Doiz, D. Lasagabaster, & J. Sierra, English-medium instruction at universities world-wide: Global challenges (pp. 41-61). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Beelen, J., & Jones, E. (2015). Looking back at the 15 years of Internationalization at Home. EAIE Forum, 6-8.

Bennett, J. M., & Bennett, M. J. (2004). Developing intercultural sensitivity: An integrative approach to global and domestic diversity. In D. Landis, J. Bennett, & M. Bennett (Eds.), Handbook of intercultural training (pp. 147-165). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Bogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. R. (1992). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theory and methods (2nd ed). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Byram, M. (1997). Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.

Byun, K., Chu, H., Kim, M., Park, I., Kim, S., & Jung, J. (2011). English-medium teaching in Korean higher education: Policy debates and reality. Higher Education, 62, 431-449. DOI 10.1007/s10734-010-9397-4

Coleman, J. A. (2006). English-medium teaching in European higher education. Language Teaching, 39, 1–14.

Corrales, K., Ferrer, E., & Rey, L. (2015) Perspectives on teaching university-level English in Colombia. Alexandria, VA: TESOL Press.

Costa, F. (2012). Focus on form in ICLHE lectures in Italy. Evidence from English-medium science lectures by native speakers of Italian. AILA Review, 25, 30-47. DOI io.i075/aila.25.03cos

Costa, F., & Coleman, J. A. (2013). A survey of English-medium instruction in Italian higher education. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 16(1), 3-19. DOI: 10.1080/13670050.2012.676621

Cots, J. M., & Lasagabaster, D., & Garrett, P. (2012). Multilingual policies and practices of universities in three bilingual regions of Europe. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 216, 7-32.

Coyle, D., Hood, P., & Marsh, D. (2010). CLIL: Content and language integrated learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dafouz Milne, E., Llinares, A., & Morton, T. (2010). CLIL across contexts: A scaffolding framework for CLIL teacher education. View[z] Vienna English Working Papers, 19(3), 12-20. Retrieved from

de Wit, H. (2016, April 7). Modelos para la internacionalización en América Latina [Video file].

Retrieved from

Deardorff, D. K. (2004). The identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of international education at institutions of higher education in the United States. Unpublished dissertation, North Carolina State University, Raleigh.

Deardorff, D. K. (2006). The identification and assessment of intercultural competence as a student outcome of internationalization at institutions of higher education in the United States. Journal of Studies in International Education, 10, 241-266.

Dervin, F., & Hahl, K. (2015). Developing a portfolio of intercultural competences in teacher education: The case of a Finnish international program. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 59(1), 95–109.

Doiz, A., Lasagabaster, D., & Sierra, J. M. (2011). Internationalisation, multilingualism and English-medium instruction. World Englishes, 30 (3), 345–359.

Doiz, A., Lasagabaster, D., & Sierra, J. M. (2013). What does ‘international university? Mean at a European bilingual university? The role of languages and culture. Language Awareness, 23(1-2), 1-15. DOI 10.1080/09658416.2013.863895

Gazzola, M. (2012). The linguistic implications of academic performance indicators: General trends and case study. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 216, 131-156.

Greere, A., & Räsänen, A. (2008). Year one report. LANQUA subproject on content and language integrated learning: Redefining ‘CLIL’—Towards multilingual competence. Retrieved from:

Haigh, M. (2014). From internationalisation to education for global citizenship: A multi-layered history. Higher Education Quarterly, 68(1), 6-27.

Hu, G., Li, L., & Lei, J. (2014). English-medium instruction at a Chinese university: Rhetoric and reality. Language Policy, 13, 21–40. DOI 10.1007/s10993-013-9298-3

Jensen, C., & Thøgersen, J. (2011). Lecturing undergraduate science in Danish and in English: A comparison of speaking rate and rhetorical style. Journal of English for Specific Purposes, 30, 209-221.

Kırkgöz, Y. (2009). Students’ and lecturers’ perceptions of the effectiveness of foreign language instruction in an English-medium university in Turkey. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(1), 81-93.

Knight, J. (2003). Updated internationalization definition. International Higher Education, 33, 2-3.

Kubota, R. (2009). Internationalization of universities: Paradoxes and responsibilities. The Modern Language Journal, 93(iv), 612-616.

Ljosland, R. (2011). English as an academic lingua franca: Language policies and multilingual practices in a Norwegian university. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 991-1004.

Maiworm, F., & Wätcher, B. (Eds.). (2002). English-language-taught degree programmes in European higher education. Trends and success factors. ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education. Bonn: Lemmons Medien GmbH. Retrieved from

Montgomery, M. (2008). Global futures, global communities? The role of culture, language and communications in an internationalised university. In H. Haberland, J.

Mortensen, A. Frabicius, B. Preisler, K. Risager, & S. Kjaerbeck (Eds.), Higher education in the global village. Cultural and linguistic practices in the international university (pp. 17–34). Roskilde: Department of Culture and Identity, Roskilde University.

Mortensen, J. & Haberland, H. (2012). English—the new Latin of academia? Danish universities as a case. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 216, 175-197.

Olsen, L. A., & Huckin, T. H. (1990). Point-driven understanding in engineering lecture comprehension. English for Specific Purposes, 9, 33-47.

Paseka, A. (2000). Towards internationalisation in teacher education: An attempt to use English as the working language in a sociology course. Teaching in Higher Education, 5(3), 359-371.

Pérez-Cañado, M. L. (2012). CLIL research in Europe: Past, present, and future. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 15(3), 315-341. DOI: 10.1080/13670050.2011.630064

Ruiz-Garrido, M. F., & Palmer-Silveira, J. C. (2008). Content learning in business communication: A teaching experience within new European framework. In I. Fortanet & Ch. Räisänen, (Eds.) ESP in European Higher Education (pp. 147-164). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Sercu, L. (2004). The introduction of English-medium instruction in university: A comparison of Flemish lecturers’ and student’ language skills, perceptions and attitudes. In Wilkinson (Ed.), Integrating content and language: Meeting the challenge of a multilingual higher education (pp. 547-555). Maastricht: Universitaire pers.

Sert, N. (2008). The language of instruction dilemma in the Turkish context. An International Journal of Educational Technology and Applied Linguistics, 36(2), 156-171.

Smit, U., & Dafouz, E. (2012). Integrating content and language in higher education. An introduction to English-medium policies, conceptual issues and research practices across Europe. AILA Review, 25, 1–12.

Soria, K. M., & Troisi, J. (2014). Internationalization at home alternatives to study abroad: Implications for students’ development of global, international, and intercultural competencies. Journal of Studies in International Education, 18(3), 261–280.

Spiro, J. (2011). Guided interaction as intercultural learning: Designing internationalisation into a mixed delivery teacher education programme. Higher Education Research & Development, 30(5), 635-646. DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2011.598453.

Söderlundh, H. (2013). Applying transnational strategies locally: English as a medium of instruction in Swedish higher education. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 13(1), 113-132.

Teemant, A., Bernhardt, E., & Rodriguez-Muñoz, M. (1997). Collaborating with content-area teachers: What we need to share. In M.A. Snow & D.M. Brinton (Eds.), The content-based classroom: Perspectives on integrating language and content (pp. 311-318). White Plains, New York: Longman.

Unterberger, B. (2012). English-medium programmes at Austrian business faculties. In U. Smit & E. Dafouz (Eds.), Integrating content and language in higher education (pp. 80-100). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Wächter, B., & Maiworm, F. (Eds.). (2014). English-taught programmes in European higher education. The state of play in 2014. Bonn: Lemmens Medien GmbH. Retrieved from:

Wächter, B., & Maiworm, F. (2008). English-taught programmes in European higher education: The picture in 2007. Bonn: Lemmens.

Yang, R. (2002). University internalization: Its meanings, rationales and implications. Intercultural Education, 13(1), 81-95.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Indexed in: DOAJLinguistics Abstracts OnlineGoogle ScholarsMLA Bibliography - Language, Linguistics and LiteratureOpen J-GateDirectory of Research Journals Indexing, EBSCO, ProQuest, e-revist@sPublindex Category C